Hijacked! Conference in Bonn, Germany

Hijacked!: A Critical Treatment of the Public Rhetoric of “Good” and “Bad” Religion was a conference held from June 8-10 in Bonn, Germany, at the Forum Internationale Wissenschaft (FIW) at the University of Bonn.  Three members of Culture on the Edge (Merinda Simmons, Vaia Touna, and Leslie Dorrough Smith) attended as participants.

The conference’s aim was to consider the rhetorical strategies that various social groups use to evaluate the role of religion in public life.  In particular, a group of international scholars focused on four different themes (the classroom, the media, the university, and politics, respectively) considered how rhetorics of good/authentic/”real” religion have been juxtaposed with concepts of bad/illegitimate/”fake” religion, and the sorts of political work such rhetorics have made possible. Continue reading “Hijacked! Conference in Bonn, Germany”

I’m Just Here for the T-Shirt

National LampoonsPhoto credit: http://traduzioniclick.it

As I write this, I am returning from Germany, where I’ve had the pleasure of teaching a short course at the University of Hannover. When I wasn’t teaching this past week, I spent some time doing what most tourists do: wandering the city looking for trinkets to bring back to my family. When I asked my students where I should look for some gifts, most did the equivalent of rolling their eyes while telling me there was nowhere cool in Hannover to go (one student, in particular, humorously – and yet repeatedly – directed me to Berlin).  But despite the fact that I was armed with a good map, a subway ticket, and directions to the shopping district, my task ended up much harder than I thought it would be. Continue reading “I’m Just Here for the T-Shirt”

Hitler’s Ride

icon_bug2Photo credit: NPR

A recent NPR story by author Maureen Pao tells of a sort of bait and switch going on with some of the world’s most famous consumer products, the branding strategies of which are tied to national identity.  Did you know that Levi’s jeans are now no longer manufactured in San Francisco (nor even the United States), or that Stoli Vodka is now not “Russian” at all, but is produced in Latvia? Even the iconic body style of the original Volkswagen Beetle was last produced in Mexico.  Additionally noteworthy to Pao was the decision to move the production of Britain’s famous condiment, HP sauce, to the Netherlands, something likened to “selling the family’s silver.” Continue reading “Hitler’s Ride”